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The Process from the Student's Perspective

Lesley Nicholls' Guide to the Application Process


Table of Contents
The Application Process - From the University's End < | The Application Process - From the Student's End | > Timing and Deadlines!!

Finding a Graduate School in Archaeology

A few rare students enter an undergraduate programme with a clear idea of what they to do and of the steps required to reach their goal. They know that they want to be a University teacher and that they will need to complete a PhD to obtain this ambition. The majority, however, define their career goals much later in their undergraduate programmes. Often it is not until the beginning of their final year in an undergraduate programme that the decision is made to apply to graduate school. In either case once the decision to apply is made, you should begin working on it straight away.

How do you find out about programmes offered at other universities or even which universities offer graduate programmes in archaeology?
  1. Most departments will have copies of the American Anthropological Association's Guide to Departments which lists nearly all anthropology/archaeology programmes in the States and Canada, as well as some overseas departments.
  2. Most departments will have copies of the Guide to Departments of Sociology, Anthropology and Archaeology published by the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. This lists most departments in Canada. It is currently in the process of being updated.
    Both these guides are invaluable in that the Department listings include faculty, research interests, special programmes, brief descriptions of programme requirements, funding available and so on.
  3. University libraries have calendars from just about every other university in Canada and the States. Graduate faculties also have a variety of calendars.
  4. Web Pages. Most departments have web pages that give you full information on their graduate program (Calgary's web page contains a complete version of our department brochure), faculty, research interests etc. You can also usually submit a request for an application through a link on the web page. There is a Guide to Graduate Schools in Archaeology on this About page.
  5. Talk to faculty about possible schools. All of them have been through a graduate programme and they all have contacts at schools across the country and have a pretty good idea of the programmes offered.
  6. Think carefully about what the school can offer you. If you want to study maritime adaptations in the Maritimes, Calgary may not be the best place for you--but Memorial would. Match the schools' areal and topical research interests to your interests. It's easier at the MA level as more schools offer that degree, but with only eight (including Univ. De Montréal) schools offering the PhD it becomes harder.
Not all schools offer graduate studies in archaeology and some are specific in the areas they cover. Also don't forget that at all schools in North America, except Calgary, Simon Fraser and Boston, Archaeology is taught in Departments of Anthropology.

A Short List of Graduate Schools

From the information you have gleaned from the above sources, you should be able to draw up a short list of six or so schools that you think will meet your needs. Write a brief note to the department to get more information. Most departments send out an application package that includes application forms, reference forms, information on the department and program and funding information. You need to think hard about how many schools you want to apply to--it costs money putting together an application so you really need to look carefully at the schools you are writing to.

Once you have picked a short list of schools and have an idea of someone you would like to study with, write to that person. Introduce yourself, state that you are interested in applying to that person's university, and briefly talk about the possibilities of working under their supervision (mention area of interest, previous work in the field etc.). Conferences are a wonderful way of meeting potential supervisors so if there is someone here whose work interests you, try and at least introduce yourself to them and follow up with a letter. This is called networking.

Hopefully you now have some idea of what is required to complete your application and time to get down to the nitty gritty of actually writing letters, filling out forms and the like. But first an important point that I will be emphasizing throughout the rest of this Guide: Timing and Deadlines!

Table of Contents
The Application Process - From the University's End < | The Application Process - From the Student's End | > Timing and Deadlines!!

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